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Planning Wedding Ideas

  • To Wear: We dressed our bride in a clever, interchangeable ensemble from Elizabeth Dye. The exquisite, structured top is made from silk satin. Multiple skirt options make sure you are dressed right for the day's festivities. For the ceremony, we added a soft tulle skirt, dyed to just the right "ballerina pink" hue. A large handmade flower completes the look with a sweet silk flower in her hair as well. For the after party, consider this adorable green silk organza skirt! Paired with some killer high heels, it will ensure you have lots of fun at your party. A fluff of handmade poppies and roses embellish the waistline.Our bride rocked two hair styles. A soft, side chignon and a sweet and flirty side braid. Both created by Madeline Roosevelt.









    To Decorate: Our deceptively elegant table is really quite budget friendly. We started with basic rentals: ivory linen cloth (to the floor) and gold Chivari chairs. Homemade linen napkins and thrifted plates and utensils make up the place settings. For the centerpiece, we gathered inexpensive gold candlesticks from thrift stores (around $1 each). The gorgeous, tall candles are from our favorite candle company, Creative Candles. They have a wide array of colors so you can find the perfect hue for your table. Two sweet flower pots of peony stems complete the look. For fun, we added some gold swans! Two thrifted swans (less than $5 at a thrift store) were added to the table. We also decorated the room with a few larger gold swans filled with peonies.







    To Eat:  Instead of a traditional wedding cake, consider a croquembouche! A croquembouche is French dessert made from a tower of cream puffs and is dressed with caramel. Not only is it delicious, but it's gorgeous and festive as well! Ours is from Portland-based La Provence Bakery.



    Enjoy implementing these playful but elegant touches to your wedding!


    Credits + Sources:


    Photography: Lisa Warninger. Dresses + wardrobe styling: Elizabeth Dye. Hair and Makeup: Madeline Roosevelt. Prop and floral styling: Chelsea Fuss.Model: Hannah Osborn. Assistants: Lauren Willhite and Amber Johnstun. Headband: Twigs and Honey. Additional flowers: The English Dept. Table card holder: Cabin 7. Large gold swans: Fish Bone Deco. Croquembouche: La Provence Bakery. Candles: Creative Candles.


     

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  • Whether you want to get married with the summer sun shining upon your face or need to work your plans around family and friends, setting the wedding date can become a much trickier task than first expected. When setting the wedding date, it is important to take notice to the many factors that can affect the planning of nuptials. For example, will your favorite uncle be able to attend? Is it possible to book the church of your choice in less than six months?

    A few factors to consider when setting the wedding date, include:

    Setting the Wedding Date First

    Most couples usually have preconceived notions for their wedding date, which may include the season, holiday ideas, sentimental value, and overall time of the year. It is quite popular to decide on a date first and then locate sites and services that work around your decision. 

    Setting the Wedding Date Second

    However, there are some couples who have their heart set on a winery wedding in June or a particular destination, which sometimes requires setting the wedding date after the ceremony location, reception site, and other related services (like caterer or photographer) have been selected.

    Family and Friends' Schedules

    When you begin the not-so-easy task of setting the wedding date, I am almost positive a few glitches or complications will emerge. It's pretty obvious that planning a wedding close to Christmas will surely produce a few no-shows, but did you count on Grandma's gall bladder surgery scheduled for July? If you are dead-set on having close friends and family members at your wedding, then it's a good idea to check any unforeseeable events in their lives that could disrupt their attendance.

    Consider the Wedding Party

    Setting the date for a wedding will ultimately affect the people closest to you. Will all your bridesmaids be able to attend? For out-of-town attendants, will weather conditions pose a problem? What about vacations that attendants and guests may already have planned for the summer months?

    Wedding Site Availability

    Take into account the busy schedules of the churches, synagogues, and other wedding sites.

    Wedding Facilities

    Are you planning to wed at a facility with a reputation of seeing its fair share of father-daughter dances? It's a good idea to check availability for the facilities and sites you already have in mind. Some locations are booked solid for years in advance.

    In-Demand Services

    Don't forget to research the wedding related services of your choice. For example, some photographers are in extremely high demand for their wedding services, while it's a good thing to know that the pastry chef of your choice vacations in October.

    Photos by Gene Higa

     

     

     

     

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  • It's the place where family and friends gather to enjoy heartfelt toasts and comical best man speeches…the place where roses and fondant bring wedding cake dreams to life…and where the 'first dance' melts the hearts of onlookers. Thanks to the reception venue, we share that unforgettable moment when a newly married couple first greets the public as 'husband' and 'wife.'

    How will you plan one of the most important parties of your life?

    I hate to break your thoughts of clinking champagne glasses and tossing the fateful bouquet of flowers, but there's a bit of planning to sort out. Locating and securing the perfect reception venue for your wedding depends on many different factors.


    Photos by KT Merry

    Price

    I probably don’t have to tell you that one of the hardest aspects of planning a wedding is sticking to a budget and juggling the costs of both necessities and desires. Whether your reception is held at a ritzy hotel, winery, or backyard – get a good grasp on your expenses. What will everything cost? For rented reception venues, don’t forget to inquire about cake cutting fees, silverware, tables and chairs, and cleanup options. Also, read the fine print regarding the food and drink minimum.

    Read local reception reviews now!

    Proximity

    In the hustle and bustle of preparation, I know you'll want to visit your reception venue at least a couple of times before your big day. We've all heard about the decorating drama and last-minute snafus that have happened to the next bride. However, if it takes an hour or so to drive out to the venue, you risk facing a cumbersome journey when you need to iron out minor details.

    Location

    The location of your reception venue also plays an important role. For starters, will it provide ample parking for your guests? Will guests have trouble locating the venue? Lastly, how far do you want family and friends to travel after the festivities have come to a close? While you want to host an unforgettable celebration, take into account the safety, convenience, and comfort that your reception venue will provide.


    Photo by Annabella Charles

    Ambience

    Choosing a suitable wedding reception venue will most certainly help set the tone for your special day. Does the reception venue complement the number of guests you expect to attend? Is there enough room to accommodate all involved, including the band, serving lines, and mingling singles? Do you want an intimate, cozy setting or a larger-than-life extravaganza that resonates with matrimonial bliss? When you step into a possible reception venue, does the space feel 'right?'

    Overall, the reception venue provides the setting where guests and the wedding party can let down their hair, share good times, and admire the twinkling eyes of newlyweds in love. It's also the perfect time for you to let out that deep sigh of relief – I'm married now!

     

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  • When it comes to cutting wedding costs, it is important to learn the difference between fleeting moments of fun and cherished memories that last a lifetime. Do you think it matters more if the hottest DJ in town spins records at your reception or if you have a dazzling photo album to show your grandkids? If you need to adhere to a certain budget or wish to save money on your nuptials, I suggest you avoid cutting wedding costs in the following categories:


    Photo by Nadia D Photography

    1) Wedding Rings

    While the thought of expensive centerpieces and imported red roses sound perfect for your wedding, they cannot compare to the significance of your wedding rings. When a bride and groom slip this symbol of everlasting love and commitment on their fingers – it should be a choice that overshadows any other details of the wedding. Your wedding ring will last a lifetime and if you're cutting wedding costs, this should be the last item on your list to consider.

    2) Wedding Dress

    A happy bride that beams with beauty is one who feels comfortable in her wedding dress. If that means going the extra mile with a custom-made ballroom gown, then so be it. When cutting wedding costs, try to eliminate the fancy invitations and ice sculptures before downsizing your wedding dress. Remember – ice melts and invitations collect dust, but the memory of slipping into your wedding gown will last forever.

    3) Reception Food

    A great deal of your budget will be spent on catering your wedding reception. However, cutting wedding costs for reception food can leave your guests hungry, thirsty, tired, and less likely to feel energized for an event focused on non-stop celebration, laughs, and hearty toasts.

    4) Capturing Wedding Memories

    When it's all said and done, vows exchanged, wedding cake devoured, and first dances complete, how will you remember the intricate details of your wedding? When cutting wedding costs, leave room for your memories to breathe. If you can help it, don't settle for an amateur photographer or enlist the help of your cousin with his digital camera. Capture your wedding memories professionally.

    What about a videographer? If you must choose between having a video of your special day and investing in a decent wedding photographer, consider the pros and cons of each method, but in the end – a classic black and white photo usually trumps a recording of your special day. 

    5) Honeymoon

    Where will you spend your first moments as husband and wife? Cutting wedding costs may mean enjoying a better honeymoon destination and/or package. It's OK to forego gilded embossed invitations, arrange your own flowers, or eliminate the limousine ride to and from the reception for the entire wedding party. Some people wind up not being able to honeymoon after the wedding because they've spent all of their money on the frills of an elaborate reception.

     

    Cutting wedding costs doesn’t mean cutting off a limb – with careful discussion, you'll find that not everything is a 'must-have' when it comes to planning your nuptials.

     

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  • Planning a walk down the aisle involves much more effort than making important decisions and setting dates – you also have to exercise a bit of wedding etiquette throughout the entire process. Every bride and groom will face obstacles and moments when they must bite their tongue. However, knowing how to avoid some of the potential disasters that can threaten your special day means getting acquainted with the following wedding etiquette.

    Wedding Etiquette: Invitations

    Children Showing Up at an Adult Reception: Some people are dead-set on toting their children wherever they go, but if you don’t envision the pitter-patter of little feet at your wedding, it's important that you break the news firmly, yet gently. When addressing your invitations, do not include the names of their children. If you'd like to be a little clearer on your invitations – add the words 'adult reception' to invitations and state the number of seats reserved in their names. For an extra boost, have family and friends send along the word that you don't want children to attend your wedding festivities.
      Unknown Guests: If you'd rather see the bright and shining faces of loved ones on your special day, wedding etiquette states to make sure single guests and all other parties are aware that they cannot bring a friend along for the event.
      Forgetting Important Guests: Don’t run into the wedding etiquette disaster of forgetting to send invitations to your officiant and their significant other. Your parents and wedding party should also receive invitations. They don’t have to reply, but they make great keepsakes.
      RSVP: Don’t forget to place return postage on your RSVP's.

    Wedding Etiquette: Seating Charts

    Make It Fun for All: Wedding etiquette suggests that creating seating groups according to their relation to one another or age will ensure a good time for all. Allow aunts and uncles to catch up with one another. Separate teenagers from adults and the 'kiddie' table. And, don’t place relatives that don’t get along at the same table. You don't want to come face-to-face with that kind of wedding etiquette disaster.
      Easy Navigation: Don’t force guests to waste time searching for their assigned seats. Make sure clearly visible numbers are used to identify reception tables. 

    Wedding Etiquette: Wedding Gifts

    Making Demands: A wedding etiquette no-no is placing phrases like "cash only gifts" on your invitations – that's just plain rude!
      Opening Presents: In case you were wondering, you're not breaking any wedding etiquette rules if you don’t open your presents in front of guests at the reception.

     

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  • With a beach wedding reception, it's OK to wear a sundress and surrender to the swish of sand between your toes. In most cases, it's time to say goodbye to restricting formalwear and 'hello' to a casual celebration with the ones you love. From roasting marshmallows and sipping champagne by a bonfire to releasing Chinese lanterns into the sea, beach receptions are downright fun!

    Why Choose a Beach Wedding Reception?

    Perfect for carefree and laidback couples The ocean air and relaxing waves Ties into some honeymoon plans Fits a tropical wedding theme Beautiful sunsets


    Photos by Jillian Mitchell

    Beach Wedding Reception Ideas

    Tap into the versatility and beauty of a beach wedding reception site's scenery and natural elements by creating centerpieces with romantic sandcastles decorated with seashells. Why not adorn the center of beach reception tables with candles tied with turquoise ribbon and situated in the middle of gold-trimmed ivory plates surrounded by white chocolate seashells? You could also use mini-fishbowls filled with blue-tinted water to hold bouquets of hydrangeas and white peonies.

    The Pros and Cons of a Beach Wedding Reception Site

    Pros

    There's nothing more romantic than holding onto the one you love, as the fiery glow of the sun disappears behind open waters. Take a deep breath in, as it's your special day and you are surrounded by the calm waves of nature. A beach reception is a great idea for laidback couples looking for a casual affair. Guests can let down their hair in comfort, slipping into flip-flops and leaving high-heeled shoes at home. You'll also save money in the long run, as a beach reception typically doesn’t serve a catered dinner. Guests with children will also feel comfortable bringing their little ones along to enjoy your celebration.

    Cons

    Temperatures are always a bit cooler when situated close to a body of water. A beach wedding reception is always in danger of feeling the chill of brisk winds and sustaining unexpected changes in weather. Plus, when the sun sets – you should plan on bringing out the sweaters or arrange for heated tents. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a Plan B if Mother Nature decides to interrupt your party. When it comes to your guests, some may not feel comfortable taking off their shoes and kicking back in a beach setting, especially if they are afraid of water.

    A beach wedding reception also requires permission from local authorities; so don’t overlook the importance of obtaining a permit for large numbers. You may also run into a few rules of the beach, which could involve the use of candles, playing music at night, open fires, and how long you can party. Since you're outside, don’t forget about bugs and beaming rays of sun. Make sure to supply guests with plenty of insect repellant and sunscreen.

     

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  • With the raging costs of catered food and professional guidance that comes with a hefty price, planning a DIY wedding might not be such a bad idea. However, before you make the commitment to handle all of the details (no matter how large or small) on your own, you should consider the following components that go into planning a DIY wedding.


    Photo courtesy of Port Charlotte Florist

    DIY Wedding Makeup

    Pros: You've been doing your makeup all of these years and it just doesn’t seem right to pay someone else to brush on the bronzer and create pouty lips. DIY wedding makeup allows you to take all the time you want dabbling in various color combinations and techniques. Cons: Yeah, you've been doing your makeup all along, but you can't quite recall the last time you actually got a compliment on your lip liner and eye shadow skills. Since your wedding is one of the most important days in your life – you may want every detail professionally in place.

    DIY Wedding Flowers

    Pros: With a few rolls of wire, twine, bold-colored ribbons, Baby's Breath, and fresh blooms, you will soon travel down a road filled with creativity. Many DIY wedding books highlight various methods of accomplishing beautiful centerpieces and floral arrangements for your reception. This adventure also makes a fun project for friends and families that wish to help out. View ideas for DIY Wedding Flowers » Cons: Making centerpieces and filling vases with long-stemmed roses for your reception are not the only tasks that call for handling flowers. If you aren’t ready to create your bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, and other necessary items, you may want to ask for the assistance of a professional florist.

    DIY Wedding Reception Food

    Pros: A bride planning an intimate gathering of family and friends will benefit the most from DIY wedding food. Preparing hors d'oeuvres, the main course, sides, and dessert for a small number of people usually winds up much cheaper than hiring catering services. Lucky brides don’t even have to lift a finger in some cases when family members offer to handle this task. Cons: Will you honestly be able to feed a guest list consisting of 200 people? Catering your own event may also mean enlisting the help of relatives or succumbing to a potluck dinner affair. While some couples can entertain guests with an outdoor BBQ, are you prepared to keep in line with your wedding theme if you provide DIY wedding food?

    DIY Wedding Music

    Pros: Is it really necessary to hire a DJ or subject loved ones to a cheesy band? Take complete control of the music played at your DIY wedding by utilizing a collection of pre-made CDs or an iPod with an endless playlist. Cons: However, this means someone will have to periodically check in on the music and sound system. Also, there is the business of requesting songs – it will take a little bit of shuffling to satisfy such wishes.

     

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  • Settling down to create a guest list for your wedding can cause a great deal of headaches, especially when trying to narrow down a final headcount in order to stay within your budget. Besides making sure you've invited the most important players in your life, there are other factors to take into consideration, such as plus ones and children. Should you make concessions and invite plus ones and children?

    Plus Ones at Your Wedding – Pros and Cons

    While the spouses of married invitees are automatically included on a wedding guest list, the individuals that you wish to attend who haven’t found the love of their life yet may want to bring a date or friend along. However, when you’re calculating the overall cost to include plus ones in your wedding plans, it may not serve your best interests.  So, how will you keep your single guests feeling comfortable? Consider the following pros and cons of inviting plus ones to your wedding:

    Pros: Weddings are full of couples who are either reminiscing their own nuptials or looking forward to their own when they attend a wedding. As paired guests settle into their assigned seats, others (who have come alone) feel left out. Allowing plus ones to attend your wedding will keep your single guests happy, chatty, and within a comfort zone – unless of course…they are looking to mingle with another single guest. Cons: If you allow plus ones to attend your wedding, you could end up seeing roommates, best friends, and the guy your sister just met strolling into your reception. Bottom line – you could wind up seeing an assortment of unfamiliar faces that you're ultimately paying to attend.

    Children at Your Wedding – Pros and Cons

    When it comes to children at your wedding, you have to keep in mind that some parents will not leave their little ones behind. However, this is your special day and if you don’t want the pitter-patter of little feet, unscripted outbursts, and distractions at the ceremony – most parents usually understand a request to leave the kiddies at home. The pros and cons of such a decision include:

    Pros: Letting children attend your wedding will make parents on your guest list pretty happy. They get a chance to spend quality time with their little one during a special occasion. It also gives them an excuse to whip out the attire that transforms their kids into princes and princesses. Having children at your wedding also means that you'll benefit from the angelic faces that make unforgettable ring bearer and flower girl moments. Cons: With sleepy eyes, gyrating adults at an evening reception, and inappropriate musical tunes, a child at your wedding probably isn’t the best idea. A wedding taking place in a small, intimate setting will also seem claustrophobic to a child that isn’t used to being around a lot of strangers. At your wedding ceremony, a crying fit can erupt at any moment, possibly interrupting the exchange of your vows.

     

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  • Photo by Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images

    The wedding cake is certainly the star attraction when it comes to sweets at a reception, but it doesn’t mean you can't serve other desserts at the same time. From dainty cupcake pyramids to mini-dessert buffets, a wealth of sugary treats is available to accompany your dream wedding cake. A few suggestions include:

    1) Common Desserts with a Twist

    Taking well-known desserts and transforming them into creative delicacies is a grand way to pamper your guests. Why don’t you select a couple of your favorite desserts, and add a special twist, such as:

    Spicing up crème brulee with a mocha flavoring Drenching unforgettable tiramisu with chocolate gouache Serving marscapone cheese tarts with fresh whipped cream Substituting ice cream for gelato or fresh-fruit sorbet

    2) Cheesecake with Flair

    Since this is your wedding, you probably want desserts with a bit of flair. Cheesecake is a popular dish, often drenched in strawberries with a dab of whipped cream. However, thanks to establishments, such as the Cheesecake Factory, you no longer have to settle for the same ol' flavors. Today, a wedding can trade in this strawberry-topped confection for the likes of pineapple, key lime, cookies and cream, orange cream, and Kahlua options.

    3) Cultural Delights

    If you have planned a wedding theme centered on a specific culture, there's no better time than now to whip out the German apple strudel, Danish dough ring cake, flan, Italian cookies, or sweet potato pie cups. If the bride and groom come from different backgrounds, it's exciting for guests to sample desserts from other cultures. I've seen some couples create adorable 'his' and 'hers' dessert buffets – situated side-by-side.


    Photo by This Modern Romance

     

    4) Desserts as Mini-Appetizers

    While a large slice of apple pie sounds nice, it can also spoil the appetites of your guests. However, if you serve mini-sizes of your favorite desserts – you can keep their palates smiling with enough room for the main course and wedding cake at the end. Bite-sized delights may include: brownie bites with white chocolate sauce; mini ice cream sandwiches; chocolate balls; lemon tarts; and praline bites.

     

    5) Dessert Drinks

    Sometimes, desserts for weddings don’t have to include an item that you can sink your teeth into, but instead a treat that you sip, slurp, and guzzle. Coffee drinks as desserts may offer a spiked treat for adults with the addition of Kahlua, Irish cream, crème de menthe, and Frangelico. For under-age guests, consider smoothies, root beer floats, and milkshakes – which often turn out a hit with all ages.

     

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  • While it is customary for the parents of the groom to host a rehearsal dinner for the married couple-to-be, anyone can step up to the plate for this event, including the beaming duo themselves. From choosing a suitable location and requesting a special menu, what would you like to see at your rehearsal dinner – an event that lets you get more acquainted with the in-laws, share laughs with the wedding party, and express your gratitude for support. A couple of rehearsal dinner ideas are found below:


    Photo by: Atelier Pictures

    What is a Rehearsal Dinner Anyway?

    For some brides in the beginning stages of wedding planning, a rehearsal dinner is the last thing on her mind. She's worried about picking out the right cake flavor and hiring a wedding photographer. However, following the wedding rehearsal, a gathering of family and friends often takes place the night before the actual wedding is scheduled to take place. Keep in mind that this is not a requirement. There is no set-in-stone rule that says you have to share a meal with the wedding party before your big night. It is on the other hand, a nice way of saying thanks and getting to know everyone a little better.

    A Rehearsal Dinner: What to Expect

    Eating is not the only thing that takes place during a rehearsal dinner. The bride and groom will thank their loved ones and toast their families, as well as the wedding party. Informal toasts are also passed along at this time. It's not uncommon to see a 'mini roast' of the bride and groom, where silly stories and embarrassing memories are retold. Depending on the location, activities, games, and icebreakers take place. Some families join in on some sort of activity, such as shoot darts or play a friendly game of poker. Sometimes, bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts are given out. 

    Location & Decor

    A rehearsal dinner can take place in the backyard of Mom's house or in the reception room of a four-star restaurant. Some families gather for a cozy picnic or BBQ in the park. Depending on the location, the rehearsal dinner could highlight the theme of the wedding or play off of your honeymoon destination. If allowed, a slideshow of memories adds a special touch. Parents may opt to bring in photos of the bride and groom from their childhood days.

    If you are planning a rehearsal dinner in the comforts of your own home, consider the following suggestions for making this mini-celebration a success:

    • Mixed drinks and 'virgin' alternatives
    • Champagne punch
    • Appetizer platters
    • Entertainment: music and board games
    • Disposable cameras
    • Guestbook

     

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  • To Wear: We dressed our bride in a clever, interchangeable ensemble from Elizabeth Dye. The exquisite, structured top is made from silk satin. Multiple skirt options make sure you are dressed right for the day's festivities. For the ceremony, we added a soft tulle skirt, dyed to just the right "ballerina pink" hue. A large handmade flower completes the look with a sweet silk flower in her hair as well. For the after party, consider this adorable green silk organza skirt! Paired with some killer high heels, it will ensure you have lots of fun at your party. A fluff of handmade poppies and roses embellish the waistline.Our bride rocked two hair styles. A soft, side chignon and a sweet and flirty side braid. Both created by Madeline Roosevelt.









    To Decorate: Our deceptively elegant table is really quite budget friendly. We started with basic rentals: ivory linen cloth (to the floor) and gold Chivari chairs. Homemade linen napkins and thrifted plates and utensils make up the place settings. For the centerpiece, we gathered inexpensive gold candlesticks from thrift stores (around $1 each). The gorgeous, tall candles are from our favorite candle company, Creative Candles. They have a wide array of colors so you can find the perfect hue for your table. Two sweet flower pots of peony stems complete the look. For fun, we added some gold swans! Two thrifted swans (less than $5 at a thrift store) were added to the table. We also decorated the room with a few larger gold swans filled with peonies.







    To Eat:  Instead of a traditional wedding cake, consider a croquembouche! A croquembouche is French dessert made from a tower of cream puffs and is dressed with caramel. Not only is it delicious, but it's gorgeous and festive as well! Ours is from Portland-based La Provence Bakery.



    Enjoy implementing these playful but elegant touches to your wedding!


    Credits + Sources:


    Photography: Lisa Warninger. Dresses + wardrobe styling: Elizabeth Dye. Hair and Makeup: Madeline Roosevelt. Prop and floral styling: Chelsea Fuss.Model: Hannah Osborn. Assistants: Lauren Willhite and Amber Johnstun. Headband: Twigs and Honey. Additional flowers: The English Dept. Table card holder: Cabin 7. Large gold swans: Fish Bone Deco. Croquembouche: La Provence Bakery. Candles: Creative Candles.


     

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  • Whether you want to get married with the summer sun shining upon your face or need to work your plans around family and friends, setting the wedding date can become a much trickier task than first expected. When setting the wedding date, it is important to take notice to the many factors that can affect the planning of nuptials. For example, will your favorite uncle be able to attend? Is it possible to book the church of your choice in less than six months?

    A few factors to consider when setting the wedding date, include:

    Setting the Wedding Date First

    Most couples usually have preconceived notions for their wedding date, which may include the season, holiday ideas, sentimental value, and overall time of the year. It is quite popular to decide on a date first and then locate sites and services that work around your decision. 

    Setting the Wedding Date Second

    However, there are some couples who have their heart set on a winery wedding in June or a particular destination, which sometimes requires setting the wedding date after the ceremony location, reception site, and other related services (like caterer or photographer) have been selected.

    Family and Friends' Schedules

    When you begin the not-so-easy task of setting the wedding date, I am almost positive a few glitches or complications will emerge. It's pretty obvious that planning a wedding close to Christmas will surely produce a few no-shows, but did you count on Grandma's gall bladder surgery scheduled for July? If you are dead-set on having close friends and family members at your wedding, then it's a good idea to check any unforeseeable events in their lives that could disrupt their attendance.

    Consider the Wedding Party

    Setting the date for a wedding will ultimately affect the people closest to you. Will all your bridesmaids be able to attend? For out-of-town attendants, will weather conditions pose a problem? What about vacations that attendants and guests may already have planned for the summer months?

    Wedding Site Availability

    Take into account the busy schedules of the churches, synagogues, and other wedding sites.

    Wedding Facilities

    Are you planning to wed at a facility with a reputation of seeing its fair share of father-daughter dances? It's a good idea to check availability for the facilities and sites you already have in mind. Some locations are booked solid for years in advance.

    In-Demand Services

    Don't forget to research the wedding related services of your choice. For example, some photographers are in extremely high demand for their wedding services, while it's a good thing to know that the pastry chef of your choice vacations in October.

    Photos by Gene Higa

     

     

     

     

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  • It's the place where family and friends gather to enjoy heartfelt toasts and comical best man speeches…the place where roses and fondant bring wedding cake dreams to life…and where the 'first dance' melts the hearts of onlookers. Thanks to the reception venue, we share that unforgettable moment when a newly married couple first greets the public as 'husband' and 'wife.'

    How will you plan one of the most important parties of your life?

    I hate to break your thoughts of clinking champagne glasses and tossing the fateful bouquet of flowers, but there's a bit of planning to sort out. Locating and securing the perfect reception venue for your wedding depends on many different factors.


    Photos by KT Merry

    Price

    I probably don’t have to tell you that one of the hardest aspects of planning a wedding is sticking to a budget and juggling the costs of both necessities and desires. Whether your reception is held at a ritzy hotel, winery, or backyard – get a good grasp on your expenses. What will everything cost? For rented reception venues, don’t forget to inquire about cake cutting fees, silverware, tables and chairs, and cleanup options. Also, read the fine print regarding the food and drink minimum.

    Read local reception reviews now!

    Proximity

    In the hustle and bustle of preparation, I know you'll want to visit your reception venue at least a couple of times before your big day. We've all heard about the decorating drama and last-minute snafus that have happened to the next bride. However, if it takes an hour or so to drive out to the venue, you risk facing a cumbersome journey when you need to iron out minor details.

    Location

    The location of your reception venue also plays an important role. For starters, will it provide ample parking for your guests? Will guests have trouble locating the venue? Lastly, how far do you want family and friends to travel after the festivities have come to a close? While you want to host an unforgettable celebration, take into account the safety, convenience, and comfort that your reception venue will provide.


    Photo by Annabella Charles

    Ambience

    Choosing a suitable wedding reception venue will most certainly help set the tone for your special day. Does the reception venue complement the number of guests you expect to attend? Is there enough room to accommodate all involved, including the band, serving lines, and mingling singles? Do you want an intimate, cozy setting or a larger-than-life extravaganza that resonates with matrimonial bliss? When you step into a possible reception venue, does the space feel 'right?'

    Overall, the reception venue provides the setting where guests and the wedding party can let down their hair, share good times, and admire the twinkling eyes of newlyweds in love. It's also the perfect time for you to let out that deep sigh of relief – I'm married now!

     

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  • When it comes to cutting wedding costs, it is important to learn the difference between fleeting moments of fun and cherished memories that last a lifetime. Do you think it matters more if the hottest DJ in town spins records at your reception or if you have a dazzling photo album to show your grandkids? If you need to adhere to a certain budget or wish to save money on your nuptials, I suggest you avoid cutting wedding costs in the following categories:


    Photo by Nadia D Photography

    1) Wedding Rings

    While the thought of expensive centerpieces and imported red roses sound perfect for your wedding, they cannot compare to the significance of your wedding rings. When a bride and groom slip this symbol of everlasting love and commitment on their fingers – it should be a choice that overshadows any other details of the wedding. Your wedding ring will last a lifetime and if you're cutting wedding costs, this should be the last item on your list to consider.

    2) Wedding Dress

    A happy bride that beams with beauty is one who feels comfortable in her wedding dress. If that means going the extra mile with a custom-made ballroom gown, then so be it. When cutting wedding costs, try to eliminate the fancy invitations and ice sculptures before downsizing your wedding dress. Remember – ice melts and invitations collect dust, but the memory of slipping into your wedding gown will last forever.

    3) Reception Food

    A great deal of your budget will be spent on catering your wedding reception. However, cutting wedding costs for reception food can leave your guests hungry, thirsty, tired, and less likely to feel energized for an event focused on non-stop celebration, laughs, and hearty toasts.

    4) Capturing Wedding Memories

    When it's all said and done, vows exchanged, wedding cake devoured, and first dances complete, how will you remember the intricate details of your wedding? When cutting wedding costs, leave room for your memories to breathe. If you can help it, don't settle for an amateur photographer or enlist the help of your cousin with his digital camera. Capture your wedding memories professionally.

    What about a videographer? If you must choose between having a video of your special day and investing in a decent wedding photographer, consider the pros and cons of each method, but in the end – a classic black and white photo usually trumps a recording of your special day. 

    5) Honeymoon

    Where will you spend your first moments as husband and wife? Cutting wedding costs may mean enjoying a better honeymoon destination and/or package. It's OK to forego gilded embossed invitations, arrange your own flowers, or eliminate the limousine ride to and from the reception for the entire wedding party. Some people wind up not being able to honeymoon after the wedding because they've spent all of their money on the frills of an elaborate reception.

     

    Cutting wedding costs doesn’t mean cutting off a limb – with careful discussion, you'll find that not everything is a 'must-have' when it comes to planning your nuptials.

     

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  • Planning a walk down the aisle involves much more effort than making important decisions and setting dates – you also have to exercise a bit of wedding etiquette throughout the entire process. Every bride and groom will face obstacles and moments when they must bite their tongue. However, knowing how to avoid some of the potential disasters that can threaten your special day means getting acquainted with the following wedding etiquette.

    Wedding Etiquette: Invitations

    Children Showing Up at an Adult Reception: Some people are dead-set on toting their children wherever they go, but if you don’t envision the pitter-patter of little feet at your wedding, it's important that you break the news firmly, yet gently. When addressing your invitations, do not include the names of their children. If you'd like to be a little clearer on your invitations – add the words 'adult reception' to invitations and state the number of seats reserved in their names. For an extra boost, have family and friends send along the word that you don't want children to attend your wedding festivities.
      Unknown Guests: If you'd rather see the bright and shining faces of loved ones on your special day, wedding etiquette states to make sure single guests and all other parties are aware that they cannot bring a friend along for the event.
      Forgetting Important Guests: Don’t run into the wedding etiquette disaster of forgetting to send invitations to your officiant and their significant other. Your parents and wedding party should also receive invitations. They don’t have to reply, but they make great keepsakes.
      RSVP: Don’t forget to place return postage on your RSVP's.

    Wedding Etiquette: Seating Charts

    Make It Fun for All: Wedding etiquette suggests that creating seating groups according to their relation to one another or age will ensure a good time for all. Allow aunts and uncles to catch up with one another. Separate teenagers from adults and the 'kiddie' table. And, don’t place relatives that don’t get along at the same table. You don't want to come face-to-face with that kind of wedding etiquette disaster.
      Easy Navigation: Don’t force guests to waste time searching for their assigned seats. Make sure clearly visible numbers are used to identify reception tables. 

    Wedding Etiquette: Wedding Gifts

    Making Demands: A wedding etiquette no-no is placing phrases like "cash only gifts" on your invitations – that's just plain rude!
      Opening Presents: In case you were wondering, you're not breaking any wedding etiquette rules if you don’t open your presents in front of guests at the reception.

     

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  • With a beach wedding reception, it's OK to wear a sundress and surrender to the swish of sand between your toes. In most cases, it's time to say goodbye to restricting formalwear and 'hello' to a casual celebration with the ones you love. From roasting marshmallows and sipping champagne by a bonfire to releasing Chinese lanterns into the sea, beach receptions are downright fun!

    Why Choose a Beach Wedding Reception?

    Perfect for carefree and laidback couples The ocean air and relaxing waves Ties into some honeymoon plans Fits a tropical wedding theme Beautiful sunsets


    Photos by Jillian Mitchell

    Beach Wedding Reception Ideas

    Tap into the versatility and beauty of a beach wedding reception site's scenery and natural elements by creating centerpieces with romantic sandcastles decorated with seashells. Why not adorn the center of beach reception tables with candles tied with turquoise ribbon and situated in the middle of gold-trimmed ivory plates surrounded by white chocolate seashells? You could also use mini-fishbowls filled with blue-tinted water to hold bouquets of hydrangeas and white peonies.

    The Pros and Cons of a Beach Wedding Reception Site

    Pros

    There's nothing more romantic than holding onto the one you love, as the fiery glow of the sun disappears behind open waters. Take a deep breath in, as it's your special day and you are surrounded by the calm waves of nature. A beach reception is a great idea for laidback couples looking for a casual affair. Guests can let down their hair in comfort, slipping into flip-flops and leaving high-heeled shoes at home. You'll also save money in the long run, as a beach reception typically doesn’t serve a catered dinner. Guests with children will also feel comfortable bringing their little ones along to enjoy your celebration.

    Cons

    Temperatures are always a bit cooler when situated close to a body of water. A beach wedding reception is always in danger of feeling the chill of brisk winds and sustaining unexpected changes in weather. Plus, when the sun sets – you should plan on bringing out the sweaters or arrange for heated tents. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a Plan B if Mother Nature decides to interrupt your party. When it comes to your guests, some may not feel comfortable taking off their shoes and kicking back in a beach setting, especially if they are afraid of water.

    A beach wedding reception also requires permission from local authorities; so don’t overlook the importance of obtaining a permit for large numbers. You may also run into a few rules of the beach, which could involve the use of candles, playing music at night, open fires, and how long you can party. Since you're outside, don’t forget about bugs and beaming rays of sun. Make sure to supply guests with plenty of insect repellant and sunscreen.

     

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  • With the raging costs of catered food and professional guidance that comes with a hefty price, planning a DIY wedding might not be such a bad idea. However, before you make the commitment to handle all of the details (no matter how large or small) on your own, you should consider the following components that go into planning a DIY wedding.


    Photo courtesy of Port Charlotte Florist

    DIY Wedding Makeup

    Pros: You've been doing your makeup all of these years and it just doesn’t seem right to pay someone else to brush on the bronzer and create pouty lips. DIY wedding makeup allows you to take all the time you want dabbling in various color combinations and techniques. Cons: Yeah, you've been doing your makeup all along, but you can't quite recall the last time you actually got a compliment on your lip liner and eye shadow skills. Since your wedding is one of the most important days in your life – you may want every detail professionally in place.

    DIY Wedding Flowers

    Pros: With a few rolls of wire, twine, bold-colored ribbons, Baby's Breath, and fresh blooms, you will soon travel down a road filled with creativity. Many DIY wedding books highlight various methods of accomplishing beautiful centerpieces and floral arrangements for your reception. This adventure also makes a fun project for friends and families that wish to help out. View ideas for DIY Wedding Flowers » Cons: Making centerpieces and filling vases with long-stemmed roses for your reception are not the only tasks that call for handling flowers. If you aren’t ready to create your bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, and other necessary items, you may want to ask for the assistance of a professional florist.

    DIY Wedding Reception Food

    Pros: A bride planning an intimate gathering of family and friends will benefit the most from DIY wedding food. Preparing hors d'oeuvres, the main course, sides, and dessert for a small number of people usually winds up much cheaper than hiring catering services. Lucky brides don’t even have to lift a finger in some cases when family members offer to handle this task. Cons: Will you honestly be able to feed a guest list consisting of 200 people? Catering your own event may also mean enlisting the help of relatives or succumbing to a potluck dinner affair. While some couples can entertain guests with an outdoor BBQ, are you prepared to keep in line with your wedding theme if you provide DIY wedding food?

    DIY Wedding Music

    Pros: Is it really necessary to hire a DJ or subject loved ones to a cheesy band? Take complete control of the music played at your DIY wedding by utilizing a collection of pre-made CDs or an iPod with an endless playlist. Cons: However, this means someone will have to periodically check in on the music and sound system. Also, there is the business of requesting songs – it will take a little bit of shuffling to satisfy such wishes.

     

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  • Settling down to create a guest list for your wedding can cause a great deal of headaches, especially when trying to narrow down a final headcount in order to stay within your budget. Besides making sure you've invited the most important players in your life, there are other factors to take into consideration, such as plus ones and children. Should you make concessions and invite plus ones and children?

    Plus Ones at Your Wedding – Pros and Cons

    While the spouses of married invitees are automatically included on a wedding guest list, the individuals that you wish to attend who haven’t found the love of their life yet may want to bring a date or friend along. However, when you’re calculating the overall cost to include plus ones in your wedding plans, it may not serve your best interests.  So, how will you keep your single guests feeling comfortable? Consider the following pros and cons of inviting plus ones to your wedding:

    Pros: Weddings are full of couples who are either reminiscing their own nuptials or looking forward to their own when they attend a wedding. As paired guests settle into their assigned seats, others (who have come alone) feel left out. Allowing plus ones to attend your wedding will keep your single guests happy, chatty, and within a comfort zone – unless of course…they are looking to mingle with another single guest. Cons: If you allow plus ones to attend your wedding, you could end up seeing roommates, best friends, and the guy your sister just met strolling into your reception. Bottom line – you could wind up seeing an assortment of unfamiliar faces that you're ultimately paying to attend.

    Children at Your Wedding – Pros and Cons

    When it comes to children at your wedding, you have to keep in mind that some parents will not leave their little ones behind. However, this is your special day and if you don’t want the pitter-patter of little feet, unscripted outbursts, and distractions at the ceremony – most parents usually understand a request to leave the kiddies at home. The pros and cons of such a decision include:

    Pros: Letting children attend your wedding will make parents on your guest list pretty happy. They get a chance to spend quality time with their little one during a special occasion. It also gives them an excuse to whip out the attire that transforms their kids into princes and princesses. Having children at your wedding also means that you'll benefit from the angelic faces that make unforgettable ring bearer and flower girl moments. Cons: With sleepy eyes, gyrating adults at an evening reception, and inappropriate musical tunes, a child at your wedding probably isn’t the best idea. A wedding taking place in a small, intimate setting will also seem claustrophobic to a child that isn’t used to being around a lot of strangers. At your wedding ceremony, a crying fit can erupt at any moment, possibly interrupting the exchange of your vows.

     

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  • Photo by Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images

    The wedding cake is certainly the star attraction when it comes to sweets at a reception, but it doesn’t mean you can't serve other desserts at the same time. From dainty cupcake pyramids to mini-dessert buffets, a wealth of sugary treats is available to accompany your dream wedding cake. A few suggestions include:

    1) Common Desserts with a Twist

    Taking well-known desserts and transforming them into creative delicacies is a grand way to pamper your guests. Why don’t you select a couple of your favorite desserts, and add a special twist, such as:

    Spicing up crème brulee with a mocha flavoring Drenching unforgettable tiramisu with chocolate gouache Serving marscapone cheese tarts with fresh whipped cream Substituting ice cream for gelato or fresh-fruit sorbet

    2) Cheesecake with Flair

    Since this is your wedding, you probably want desserts with a bit of flair. Cheesecake is a popular dish, often drenched in strawberries with a dab of whipped cream. However, thanks to establishments, such as the Cheesecake Factory, you no longer have to settle for the same ol' flavors. Today, a wedding can trade in this strawberry-topped confection for the likes of pineapple, key lime, cookies and cream, orange cream, and Kahlua options.

    3) Cultural Delights

    If you have planned a wedding theme centered on a specific culture, there's no better time than now to whip out the German apple strudel, Danish dough ring cake, flan, Italian cookies, or sweet potato pie cups. If the bride and groom come from different backgrounds, it's exciting for guests to sample desserts from other cultures. I've seen some couples create adorable 'his' and 'hers' dessert buffets – situated side-by-side.


    Photo by This Modern Romance

     

    4) Desserts as Mini-Appetizers

    While a large slice of apple pie sounds nice, it can also spoil the appetites of your guests. However, if you serve mini-sizes of your favorite desserts – you can keep their palates smiling with enough room for the main course and wedding cake at the end. Bite-sized delights may include: brownie bites with white chocolate sauce; mini ice cream sandwiches; chocolate balls; lemon tarts; and praline bites.

     

    5) Dessert Drinks

    Sometimes, desserts for weddings don’t have to include an item that you can sink your teeth into, but instead a treat that you sip, slurp, and guzzle. Coffee drinks as desserts may offer a spiked treat for adults with the addition of Kahlua, Irish cream, crème de menthe, and Frangelico. For under-age guests, consider smoothies, root beer floats, and milkshakes – which often turn out a hit with all ages.

     

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  • While it is customary for the parents of the groom to host a rehearsal dinner for the married couple-to-be, anyone can step up to the plate for this event, including the beaming duo themselves. From choosing a suitable location and requesting a special menu, what would you like to see at your rehearsal dinner – an event that lets you get more acquainted with the in-laws, share laughs with the wedding party, and express your gratitude for support. A couple of rehearsal dinner ideas are found below:


    Photo by: Atelier Pictures

    What is a Rehearsal Dinner Anyway?

    For some brides in the beginning stages of wedding planning, a rehearsal dinner is the last thing on her mind. She's worried about picking out the right cake flavor and hiring a wedding photographer. However, following the wedding rehearsal, a gathering of family and friends often takes place the night before the actual wedding is scheduled to take place. Keep in mind that this is not a requirement. There is no set-in-stone rule that says you have to share a meal with the wedding party before your big night. It is on the other hand, a nice way of saying thanks and getting to know everyone a little better.

    A Rehearsal Dinner: What to Expect

    Eating is not the only thing that takes place during a rehearsal dinner. The bride and groom will thank their loved ones and toast their families, as well as the wedding party. Informal toasts are also passed along at this time. It's not uncommon to see a 'mini roast' of the bride and groom, where silly stories and embarrassing memories are retold. Depending on the location, activities, games, and icebreakers take place. Some families join in on some sort of activity, such as shoot darts or play a friendly game of poker. Sometimes, bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts are given out. 

    Location & Decor

    A rehearsal dinner can take place in the backyard of Mom's house or in the reception room of a four-star restaurant. Some families gather for a cozy picnic or BBQ in the park. Depending on the location, the rehearsal dinner could highlight the theme of the wedding or play off of your honeymoon destination. If allowed, a slideshow of memories adds a special touch. Parents may opt to bring in photos of the bride and groom from their childhood days.

    If you are planning a rehearsal dinner in the comforts of your own home, consider the following suggestions for making this mini-celebration a success:

    • Mixed drinks and 'virgin' alternatives
    • Champagne punch
    • Appetizer platters
    • Entertainment: music and board games
    • Disposable cameras
    • Guestbook

     

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